5 Tech Trends For Your Trade Business
Technology trends have an increasingly strong influence on a trade business. Not only are the tools we use changing, but so are the business processes we adopt as a result of new technology.
It’s pretty obvious that technology is changing at lightening speed as each day goes by, but are you, as a trade business owner, moving at the same pace? Are you embracing what you should to stay cutting edge? Are you improving your efficiency through technology adoption? Saving time? Improving quality? Preventing unnecessary cost?
Here are five trends that you need to embrace to stay ahead of the game:
1. Payments get even easier
These days accepting credit card as payment is considered ‘basic’ when it comes to customer satisfaction (in other words, you’ve got to have it!), but as a business owner, why do you have to stay with the banks to offer this service when the fees you are being charged are ridiculously high? (there are ways to get this down of course!)
There is a range of mobile payment solutions flooding the market that make the acceptance of payment even easier and cheaper. eWay, Paypal, Stripe to name a few….
When doing your research consider the lowest interest rate, speed of payment deposited to your bank account and what their customer service is like. When you consider the number of jobs you do in a day, it’s important to collect your money on the spot where you can. Make it easy both for yourself and your customer by adopting technology to help.
2. Security becomes non-negotiable
You don’t leave your front door open at night….so why do you leave your digital windows wide open?
Emails are not usually secure, employee mobile devices are, in most cases unprotected, and websites have gaping holes; it’s no wonder there have been plenty of cases of spread viruses, email hacking and the like. Business owners are waking up to the vulnerability of their situation.
One of the biggest technology trends in business right now is to ensure that those holes are closed and all systems are adequately protected. This is taking the form of encryption, double logins for email, enterprise mobility management for mobile devices, and backups that make security a fundamental priority. Being up to date with the latest security technology is key to ensuring you don’t get burnt.
3. Easy and immediate communication
If you haven’t noticed, your customer has become exceptionally more savvy, well informed and impatient. Technology has done that to us all keeping us connected 24/7 and hence we have an expectation that you will answer the phone immediately, and/or respond to email within 30minutes (in fact its about 10!). It is for this reason our customers need multiple ways to contact your company.
We’ve all used Skype and WhatsApp and the like, and while these are great, you still have to use their dedicated app to communicate.
We’re starting to see more click-to-call buttons embedded directly into apps. When a customer has a question while shopping within a website, they can simply press a ‘chat now’ button and connect instantly to a customer service rep. That said, not everyone wants to ‘chat’ immediately, but they are happy to type. That’s where programs like Tawk.to come in. (we use this on our own trade business website).
Regardless of the size of your business, you can’t go by having an instant message opportunity on your website. This free cloud based platform connects to your computer and your mobile phone if someone contacts you, you will immediately be at the other end in real time.
4. Powerful real-time updates
As a trade business we already use tracking to see where our vehicles are at any given time (no more scenic drives past Bondi beach for the boys!), we use GPS to show us how to get there (gone are the days of reading a paper directory) and use a job/project management platform to manage our jobs (what paper diary?) all in real time…. But what’s next in the eyes of real time data?
There is considerable power for a trade business owner to know, in real time, more statistics on the business. Money in the bank, money outstanding, money owed, number of converted quotes, average dollar sale, gross profit for the day (the list goes on). This is where custom reports through your job/project management platform and dashboard on your cloud accounting program, working together, connected, are super powerful. Australia’s largest trade software company, simPRO, has been bringing this ability to trade businesses through an integration with key accounting software packages for the past five years.
The connectivity of these two are critically important to reduce error, save time by the prevention of double handling and, as we’ve said, provide real time data that empowers you as a business owner to make the right decision. What’s next for your real time updates?
5. Apps for tradie speed and efficiency
The Apple App store is showing no signs of slowing down when it comes to approving new Apps on the market; claims an article from TechCrunch, with an estimated 5 million apps by the year 2020.
Of course not all of these will help the average tradesman (unless gaming is how a tradie makes his money!), but there are plenty that will. Don’t be left behind by not embracing Apps to help take the edge on your business. Watch this space for what’s new, what’s helpful and what’s just fun and entertaining!
Of course there are other business technology trends, but we believe these five have already had some impact, and will continue to represent some of the biggest changes in this next year. Trade businesses would be wise to take note, make some improvements and advance your tradie technology toward the future.